CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that six West Virginia counties are now eligible for funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) which determines a large percentage of grants and awards for rural health providers. After Senator Manchin’s efforts, HRSA made revisions to theRural-Urban Commuting Areas (RUCA) codes, which changed Boone, Clay, Hampshire, Lincoln, Preston and Wirt counties from “urban” to “rural”. In October 2020, Senator Manchin submitted comments supporting the HRSA policy change.
“After pushing for over a year to change the classification system that kept rural West Virginia counties from crucial healthcare funding, HRSA announced revisions to the RUCA codes are complete, making dozens of health providers eligible for rural grants and assistance across West Virginia,” said Senator Manchin. “I am pleased our hard work paid off and health providers now have access to funding that supports critical programs including black lung/coal miner clinics programs, rural opioid response programs, rural HIV/AIDS planning programs, rural telehealth programs, State Offices of Rural Health, hospital flex grants, and many more. While we did not change all of the county classifications we advocated for, I will continue to work with HRSA to change the classifications and get our health providers the funding they need to serve West Virginians.”
Senator Manchin successfully included language in Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations, directing the Economic Research Services and Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to work on developing an update to their rural classification methodology. In September 2020, HRSA released a proposed rule updating their methodology for determining what is “rural”. The methodology is based on economic and geographic measures known as the Rural-Urban Commuting Areas (RUCA) Codes. This revision will take effect in the Fiscal Year 2022.